A black female warrior, drenched in blood, holds a sword. Chain mail hangs from her head. It’s there one second and gone the next.
This vision came to Delaney George in a dream, informing her picture of “The King Is Dead.” Fill in the gaps in the narrative by placing the warrior on a horse. The photo was presented at Frieze with Gallery 90220, making George, at 25, the youngest black female photographer to have work presented at the art festival.
Now the work will be part of a solo exhibition at Gallery 90220 titled “Notre Recit” — presented with multidisciplinary visual artist Will “WCMTL” Raojenina “The Inspirations & Joys of an Immigrant Child.” The exhibit will feature “The King Is Dead,” “Chipo,” and “Illuminate” from Gallery 90220’s Frieze booth, along with a portfolio of works focused on black female expression.
“I’m constantly inspired by the essence of black women and their femininity,” she says. “Black women are fine art.”
George says she often envisions herself in her photography, seeking to “walk in my power” alongside her subjects. That goes for “The King Is Dead.” While the piece is “set” in the Middle Ages, when most black women were marginalized, it portrayed her subject as a powerful figure. In “The King Is Dead,” he imagines the woman as someone who “cut and slashed” societal expectations, overcoming all her trials. He killed the king, “the only thing trying to hold her down,” says George.
George started taking up photography around 2014 after her mother bought her first camera. At that time she was involved in modeling. She soon started building her own portfolio, planning shots, styling them and scouting locations.
“The concepts were so thorough and so amazing that I realized I can’t be the model for everything,” says George. “That then inspired me to pick up a camera and start putting these ideas on other people.”
Her photography is heavily influenced by her upbringing in New Orleans. He remembers running around the French Quarter as a kid and being surrounded by artists and jazz musicians. Her family roots run deep. Her great-great-grandfather is Cie Frazier, the original drummer for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
“New Orleans feels like a human, like a divinity,” she says, likening the city to an inspiring older black woman.
“Growing up with that spiritual presence has really carried over into my practice, not only because I portray strong, female figures, but I think the essence of a strong, female figure followed me as I grew up as a child and throughout my whole life. life,” he says.
Her work depicts the essence of maternal figures in her life, including her mother, aunt, and grandmother. “Hometown Glory” is inspired by her aunt and captures her through the style, hair and nails that are focal points of the work.
“Growing up, I learned that a lot of the black women that I was inspired by—I love them for certain aspects of their personalities—but often in society, they would be demonized for a lot of the things that I praised them for. for”, says George.
She wants to show other black women the beauty of their existence, whether through fashion or their voice. George saw these moments first hand at Frieze.
“Every time I see a Black person walking into that picture at Frieze, their reaction and their happiness and their joy to be there really warms me,” he says.
This year’s Zoforos was the first that George ever attended. She said it was “surreal” to see her work in the artistic environments she grew up in. But at the same time, it was a reminder of the lack of representation in prestigious art events and institutions.
“When I started working around museums and in museums, a lot of black people, not just women, would tell me that they’ve never been to a particular museum, that they’ve never really had a reason to relate to it,” she said. says.
Few works at Frieze put Black people in the spotlight, which George found “reveals that there’s still a lot to be done, unfortunately.”
Next on her agenda, she plans to sync works by Memphis-based photographer Ernest Withers for an upcoming show and explore interactive and participatory art in her practice.
Another upcoming project is a sculpture that includes a bust of a Black woman with an Afro that spans six feet. It will occupy space and presence, inviting visitors to place Afro options on it with messages and art. When completed, it will be a community art project.
As she changes media, George continues to place black female figures at the forefront of her work, offering a point of connection for black viewers.
“I’m ecstatic that people are so happy to see themselves in my work and see something they can relate to in a place like Frieze, but I think it should be more common,” he says.
“Notre Recit” by Delaney George
Where: Gallery 90220, 918 E. 60th St., Los Angeles
When: Now through March 12th. Open weekdays (check RSVP availability) and 5 to 9 p.m. the weekends.
Cost: Free, RSVP required